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Problems with AncestryDNA’s Genetic Ethnicity Prediction?


I’ve received a number of emails and comments (see, e.g., here) complaining about Ancestry.com’s new test, AncestryDNA.  Specifically, several test-takers believe that the Genetic Ethnicity Prediction provided by Ancestry.com does not reflect the numbers that they expected based on their own research.
For example:

“I just got my DNA test results back from Ancestry.com and I am concerned. I was born in England and I have gone back many generations and have found that all my ancestors as far back as the 1600′s in most cases are English.  According to the results I have no British Isles DNA. It states that I have 60% Central Europe, 30% Scandinavian and 7% Southern Europe. I also have 3% unknown. How can this be?”

“Just received my results: 21% Southern European and 79% Central European which doesn’t follow years of work on my family history.”

Do these comments reflect errors in AncestryDNA’s Genetic Ethnicity Prediction, or are there other factors at play?

Caveats

Although I am not privy to the ‘behind-the-scenes’ at Ancestry.com, I don’t believe that there are serious issues with AncestryDNA’s Genetic Ethnicity Prediction.  Ancestry.com’s DNA arm has a solid scientific team and a large and valuable reference database.

Indeed, Ancestry.com is well aware of the limitations and challenges that their Genetic Ethnicity … Click to read more!

0

MyHeritage and Family Tree DNA Partner to Offer DNA Testing

 

 

 

 

As I’ve stated many, many times in the past, the future of genetic genealogy is combining test results with both family trees and paper records.

Today, MyHeritage and Family Tree DNA announced a partnership that will bring that future one step closer to reality.  MyHeritage will offer a full line of tests (13 in total) through FTDNA, including these basic introductory tests (with discounts – not shown below – for MyHeritage subscribers):

  • Y-DNA12 (12 Y-STR markers) – $99
  • mtDNA (HVR1 region) – $99
  • Family Finder (autosomal test) – $298

The FAQ page for the tests is here (and I note that although they currently do not allow import of test results from other providers, they plan to in the future).  I wonder if existing FTDNA test-takers can import their results?

Given MyHeritage’s worldwide reach and enormous membership (62 million members around … Click to read more!

7

A Review of Family Tree DNA’s Family Finder – Part II

Last week I wrote about the results of my Family Finder autosomal DNA test by Family Tree DNA (see “A Review of Family Tree DNA’s Family Finder – Part I“).  The Family Finder test uses a whole-genome SNP scan to find stretches of DNA shared by two individuals, thus identifying your genetic cousins (and will soon include the Population Finder analysis of admixture percentages).  I currently have over 33 genetic cousins in Family Finder, and I’m working with them to identify our common ancestor(s).

The Affymetrix microarray chip used by FTDNA includes over 500,000 pairs of SNPs located on the X chromosome and the autosomes (no Y chromosome SNPs).  Via SNPedia:

FamilyTreeDNA uses an Affymetrix Axiom CEU microarray chip with 3,269 SNPs removed (563,800 SNPs reported) for autosomal and X (but not Y or mitochondrial) ancestry testing for $289. Other sources have cited 548011 snps. This platform tests 1871 of the 12442 snps in SNPedia.

FTDNA states that the Family Finder test is not intended to be medical.  From the FTDNA FAQ:

Question: Is the Family Finder test medical?

Answer: No, it is not.

This is entirely accurate of course; FTDNA does not analyze the test results for health, traits, or other medically-relevant … Click to read more!

11

American Society of Human Genetics Publishes Updated Genetic Ancestry Testing Statement

Today at noon, the American Society of Human Genetics lifted an embargo on “Inferring Genetic Ancestry: Opportunities, Challenges, and Implications (pdf),” which will be published in the May 14th issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics.

This paper is a follow-up to a 2008 paper called the “ASHG Ancestry Testing Statement and Recommendations” in which a committee from the ASHG addressed concerns about the claims made by genetic ancestry testing companies.  I wrote an article here on the blog at the time – The ASHG Ancestry Testing Statement and Recommendations – that highlighted a number of concerns I had about the statement and the recommendations.

When I wrote the November 13, 2008 blog post, I began by pointing out my personal positions, which have largely remained unchanged in the intervening 1.5 years:

  • After years of experience in this field, I am a proponent of genetic genealogy testing, a scientific endeavor that has been utilized by more than 800,000 customers.
  • I believe that education, not more government regulation, is the most efficient and appropriate answer to the issues raised by the authors of the paper.
  • I believe that autosomal genetic genealogy testing is in its infancy and should only be used with the understanding that the results are only extremely rough estimates that are subject to change as the field develops.

The 2010 paper begins with a brief introduction and a table of most of the companies currently … Click to read more!

6

Faces of America and Genetic Genealogy Testing

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings (“I’m Puzzled by DNA Claims on ‘Faces of America’”) writes about the fourth and last episode of “Faces of America,” a PBS documentary series investigating the ancestry of several famous people in America. This fourth episode included several different types of genetic genealogy to examine the ancestral origins and relatedness of the show’s members.

1. Whole Genome Sequencing by Knome

The first type of genetic genealogy was whole-genome sequencing by Knome of Henry Louis Gates and his father. This analysis examined Henry’s (“Skip’s”) genome for medical conditions and physical traits, and also compared his DNA to his father’s, thereby allowing them to deduce the entire DNA contribution from his deceased mother. This segment … Click to read more!

2

A Review of Familybuilder DNA Testing

familybuilder1

Familybuilder, launched in 2007, is a genealogy company that ranks among the top 10 online genealogy services in the world with over 17 million users and over 120 million family tree profiles.  Late last year the company began offering a genetic genealogy product, as I wrote about here on the blog (see “Familybuilder Announces DNA Testing”).

Disclosure: This is a review of Familybuilder’s Y-DNA service using a kit I received free of charge for purposes of this review.  Please note that this is not meant to be an endorsement but merely a review of the Y-DNA service offered by Familybuilder.

The results of a Familybuilder Y-DNA test includes:

“The Migration Map for you and your ancestors, your 17 Markers, your Haplogroup and the History of your DNA.  In addition, the ability to share your results with family and friends on social networks such as Facebook and MySpace as well as a downloadable PDF (suitable for framing).”

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I received the following kit in the mail for the Y-DNA testing, which included a swab, detailed instructions, and a return envelope:

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Since I have already … Click to read more!

15

Q&A: Everyone Has Two Family Trees – A Genealogical Tree and a Genetic Tree

I recently received an interesting question from a reader (see this comment) about 23andMe’s Relative Finder, and thought it would be worth sharing the question and my answer with all my readers.

The Question:

I’m a man who recently took a 23andMe test, and I have a question about Relative Finder.  Another man who I match on 36 of 37 Y-DNA markers via Family Tree DNA also took a 23andMe test.  We believe that we are third cousins, but this individual does not show up as related in Relative Finder, nor does he show any similarities in the Family Inheritance section.  Does this mean that we are not related at all?

The Answer

If two individuals do not share any DNA in the Family Inheritance section of 23andMe or do not appear as relatives in Relative Finder, this absolutely … Click to read more!

0

Ancestry.com’s Genetic Genealogy Webinar

On July 8th, Ancestry.com hosted a webinar called “Genetic Genealogy Made Easy.”  The webinar is now posted and can be accessed at any time.  One great thing about a webinar is that it can be multimedia; indeed, this webinar uses both slides and video.

The presentation is pretty basic, but a good source of information for people who are new to genetic genealogy.  The following topics are covered, according to the site:

- DNA testing for genealogy works–in easy terms.
- To understand and apply your results to grow your tree.
- Ancestry.com DNA testing can continue to pay off for years.
- Women can benefit from a paternal lineage test.
- To use Ancestry.com DNA features: Groups, Transfer to Tree, and Ancient Ancestry.

Ancestry.com is planning more advanced genetic genealogy webinars in the future.

What is interesting is that the last question from the audience addressed by the webinar regards using genetic genealogy by adoptees.  Whenever I give presentations, I almost invariably receive this question in one form or another.  Seems to be a … Click to read more!